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Oedipus Rex (Dover Thrift Editions) Unabridged Edition

3.7 out of 5 stars 153 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0486268774
ISBN-10: 0486268772
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“A great work of world literature has at last become a great poem in English. Mulroy’s translation is far superior to other available English verse translations.”—Robert J. Rabel, editor of Approaches to Homer, Ancient and Modern



“Introductory notes on such matters as the historical background, fate vs. free will, and (inevitably) the Oedipus Complex are clear and useful.”—Peter Green, The New York Review of Books

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Greek
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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Thrift Editions
  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; Unabridged edition (June 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486268772
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486268774
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (153 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert James on July 27, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Oedipus the King" or Oedipus Rex is the world's first great tragedy. Almost everyone knows the tale of the man who murdered his father and married his own mother. The only question is, which translation do you read? Bernard Knox makes an excellent case for his prose translation of Sophocles classic. This is a version designed for the a filmed version meant for the classroom; as such, it is remarkably smooth and easy to read. There is little poetry left in it; if that is what you seek, look elsewhere. This edition comes with a nice set of introductory essays on the background of the play, the theater, and Sophocles. All in all, a nice little edition.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The central statement of Greek tragedy is that Man can not control his Destiny; that there is an ineluctable Fate, preordained and inescapable. No matter how much the poor humans fight against it, it must be fulfilled. And there is no character as tragic as Oedipus in all literature. In this play, we see Oedipus as a successful man who has become King of Thebes, happily married to an older woman named Iocasta. As the play unfolds, we can feel the proximity of something terrible indeed. When the blind sage Tiresias starts to unfold the true story of Oedipus, we can creepily feel the sheer horror that grips him, as he learns that he has killed his father and married his mother, unknowingly. I have no notice of any other plot that can be described as more tragic than this one. Besides, it is one of the main sources of our culture, as with all true Classics. Oedipus summarizes some of our worst fears and traumas: the need to "kill the paternal figure", the "dependency on our mother", the "impossibility of control external forces that shape our fate". It is horrific and fascinating, and there is simply no way to be indifferent to it.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Oedipus the King is one of the classic works of Western literature. It was originally written as a play in around 429 BC by Sophocles (~496-406 BC), a Greek philosopher and playwright. It took the Greek world by storm, and has been handed down to future generations who have also been greatly influenced by it. Most notably in modern times, Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) took this work as pointing toward a deep-rooted psychosis, the Oedipus Complex.

Oedipus the King (also known as Oedipus Rex or Oedipus Tyrannus) is the story of Oedipus, the king of Thebes, which is suffering under a horrific plague. Finding out that the god Apollo has laid the plague on the city until it should punish the murderer of its previous king, Oedipus pronounces a curse on the murderer and sets out to discover who the murderer was. Sadly for Oedipus, there is fate upon fate wrapped up in this mystery, and doom upon doom.

This book, is not merely a translation of Oedipus the King, instead it is an “acting version,” created by the Stratford Shakespearian Festival Company of Canada for High School level students. The book begins with an introduction to Sophocles and Greek theatre, and after the play are copious notes, critical excerpts and questions for discussion. The play itself was written so that a young reader, with no background understanding of Greek theatre or culture will understand it.

Overall, I found this to be a great book. I enjoyed the information about the play a lot, and believe that it will be very helpful to any reader. But, foremost, I enjoyed the play itself. The story is powerful, and quite enthralling. I have never seen this play acted out, but do think that this translation would make it excellent. I loved this book, and highly recommend it!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My prior exposure to Oedipus Rex goes back to my school days, which is about half way back to the period when the play was written (or so it feels). That was in some English teacher (you-shouldn't-enjoy-what-you-read-in-my-class) approved translation. And I recall we spent more time with Antigone.

Mulroy attempts to translate the play into a verse form the evokes how the Greeks would have experienced it on stage. It seems to me that he largely succeeds; his translation seems quite stageable. One challenge is that Greek audiences would have had a cultural context for interpreting the play that we lack. Fortunately, the translator provides a concise but excellent introduction that prepares the modern reader to understand the play.

The play itself tells, at times elliptically, the story everyone sort of knows. Oedipus is prophesied to kill his father the king, so he is sent off to die. Instead he ends up adopted by another king. When he learns of the prophesy he flees to avoid killing his "father". He ends up in his real homeland and kills his real father, then marries his mother. The play covers his learning the truth. It would be a shorter play if he was a little quicker on the uptake.

Although I understand its historical significance, I have trouble warming up to ancient Greek literature. It tends to be limited by the constraints of prophesies and way the gods are believed to direct the action. I recommend this translation of an important piece of literature. But I consider reading it to be more for self-eduction than for entertainment. At least it elevates the work above the I-want-you-to-suffer versions sometimes inflicted on students.

If you are looking for a few laughs on this subject, consider: Oedipus Rex
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